Immigration Hold Put On Suspect In Deadly Crash With Tulsa Cyclist

Wednesday, September 2nd 2009, 5:49 pm
By: News On 6

By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers arrested a man on Tuesday for hitting and killing a 74-year-old woman on a bicycle, and then leaving the scene.  An immigration hold has been put on the suspect at the jail.  So, what does that mean for his homicide charge?

Some people think illegal immigrants can just be deported without answering for their crimes, but the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office says that is not the case.  Illegals must pay their debt to society first before they're turned over to immigration.

Roberto Salvador Alvelais-Torres was booked into jail for negligent homicide, leaving the scene, driving with no license and failing to have insurance.  An immigration detainer has been put on him because it appears he's in the U.S. illegally.  He will be treated like any other suspected criminal in Tulsa County except for two things:  he won't get a bond and he will be turned over to immigration after his case is over.

"He has to fulfill his obligations with state court before immigration will ever step in and take a look at him," said Tulsa County Sheriff's Sgt. Shannon Clark.

If Alvelais-Torres is convicted of killing 74-year-old Beverly Duffield and sent to prison, he can be turned over to immigration after serving two-thirds of his sentence.

09/01/2009  Related Story: Arrest Made In Deadly Hit And Run Of Tulsa Cyclist

Oklahoma recently passed that law to cut down on the cost of housing criminals who are illegals.  Even if Alvelais-Torres is found innocent, he'll still be turned over to immigration.

After the jail places an immigration hold on someone, they rarely find out what happens to them if they're deported or allowed to stay.  However, they do say working with immigration has cut down the number of illegals treating the jail like a revolving door.

"Once we send ‘em to OKC, we really don't know, but what we've found is we don't have all those people coming back to jail time and time again," said Tulsa County Sheriff's Sgt. Shannon Clark.

There are 1,600 inmates in Tulsa's jail right now and 210 of them have detainers for immigration. 

In the last two years, 6,100 people have had immigration holds put on them.  Most of them have been from our nearest neighbor, Mexico, followed by Honduras and Guatemala, but including 35 different countries.

The vast majority of illegals booked into Tulsa's jail are for traffic charges, DUI, other alcohol crimes and drugs.

If immigration later learns Alvelais-Torres has a criminal background or has been deported from the U.S. before, he can be removed from our country as an aggravated felon.  That means if he comes back to the U.S. and gets caught again, he'd face federal charges.  

Tulsa's Immigration Office should be up and running by next month.